On January 29, the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs met for a presentation and exchange of views on a research paper of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the employment impact of the Investment Plan presented by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with Raymond Torres, Director of the Research Department at the ILO. Please find a summary of the proceedings below. Note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.
Raymond Torres, Director of the Research Department at the ILO, gave a presentation of the ILO study ‘An employment-oriented investment strategy for Europe’, which addresses the employment impact of the Investment Plan presented by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In his presentation, he first outlined, with the help of various statistics, how the recovery to the recent economic crisis has been uneven across the European Member States while improvements on the labour market have been marginal so far – especially concerning long-term unemployment – and then explained that investment is a generally applicable key factor underpinning job creation so that the so-called Juncker investment plan can indeed be an effective step to improve the situation on the labour markets, too.
In this context, he stressed that it must be made sure:
- that the EIB steps up (relative) funding for countries with relatively high unemployment vis-à-vis countries where unemployment is already relatively low;
- that private investments are crowded-in in projects that have a specific focus on sustainable job creation.
In order to achieve the latter, he said that it is above all important to target projects with large externalities (strategic infrastructure, energy and green sectors), to develop credit guarantees for small enterprises, and to flank all efforts with effective skills policies.
Note that the full presentation delivered by Mr Torres is available here and that the full ILO report can be accessed here. Please follow this link to access a summary record of it.
Heinz K. Becker (EPP, AT) wanted to know what the necessary criteria are for the choice of the best investments to create employment.
Jutta Steinruck (S&D, DE) asked how can be ensured that under the Juncker investment plan investments will be made especially in the Member States with the greatest unemployment challenges.
She also wanted to know if and how Juncker investment plan will fund efficient and sustainable youth employment-promoting projects.
Danuta Jazłowiecka (EPP, PL) asked if it will be a problem that the Juncker investment plan mostly aims at large-scale projects but that SMEs will perhaps not be able to carry them out, leaving SMEs excluded from any opportunities.
She also wanted to know how can be avoided that the Steering committee, which has significant decision-making power in choosing projects to be pursued under the Juncker investment plan, will not be politicised but take decisions based exclusively on economic reasoning and profitability-related considerations.
Thomas Mann (EPP, DE) also wanted to know what possibilities SMEs will have under the Juncker investment plan and agreed that it is important that decisions on the implementation of projects are made in the absence of any political considerations. He wanted to know how can be made sure that projects will in the end be effective.
Maria João Rodrigues (S&D, PT) stressed that priority should be given to projects related to the energy transition, the digital transition, and social inclusion and social investments (education, health, social services), and that, moreover, the overarching rationale of the Juncker investment plan must be to reduce macroeconomic imbalances in investments between regions and Member States.
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